Heinz spices up the condiment aisle

We’ve all had misgivings at one time or another about Big Brother monitoring our online activities (for the record, I was looking at that Web MD page on behalf of a friend), but who would have suspected that it was actually “Big Ketchup” that’s been creeping on us?

Kraft Heinz Canada on Monday announced a new line of limited-edition condiments it says were “Crowdsauced” by scouring the web’s dustiest corners for old tweets and posts on sites such as Reddit. “Millions of people post online every day. And some of them post about sauce,” says a sinister-sounding video from Rethink announcing the launch. “But little do they know they know that Heinz Ketchup is watching.”

Who knew that when George Orwell wrote in 1984 that, “You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty, and then we shall fill you with ourselves,” he was actually talking about condiment bottles?

The three new condiments, “Tarchup,” “Wasabioli” and “Hanch,” are said to be inspired by actual tweets and posts on sites such as Reddit, said Heinz.

Tarchup, for example, is a mix of Heinz Ketchup and tartar sauce that was shared in a late-night tweet by a Toronto woman in 2010, while Wasabioli was inspired by someone posting on an online wedding forum asking for advice about removing a wasabi and garlic aioli stain from her mother’s vintage dress, and Hanch was inspired by someone in Vancouver who shared a recipe combining hot sauce and ranch dressing they created in order to spice up a pizza order.

“Heinz surprised each sauce creator by making their creations a reality, and then worked with them to bring their sauce to the Canadian marketplace,” said the company in a release.

The company is selling them at select grocery stores for a suggested retail price of $2.99, and inviting people to note their own strange food pairings using the hashtag #HeinzCrowdsauced.

It’s not the first time that Kraft has experimented with these kinds of condiment mash-ups, most notably with its popular Mayochup product, which finally came to Canada in 2019. It also introduced a new line of products in the U.S. that included products like Mayomust, Mayocue and Kranch, the latter a mix of ketchup, ranch dressing and spices.

As usual with Heinz in the past few years, the intent here seems to be about earned media, generating the kind of word-of-mouth for Heinz that a traditional advertising campaign would be hard-pressed to match. To paraphrase famed media theorist Marshall McLuhan, the Mayochup is the message.

“There’s a lot of appetite for Heinz mashups as consumers continue to explore bolder and more unique flavour pairings,” said Daniel Gotlib, associate director, brand building and Innovation with Kraft Heinz Canada of this latest line of products. “Surprisingly, there is a lot of social conversation about condiment mashups and we saw an opportunity to work with our fans in creating mashups that are inspired by them.”

Will Heinz’s competitors respond to the new “Crowdsauced” products?  Unlikely. For now the world’s most famous condiment brand has cornered the market on these kinds of oddball pairings. In other words, if it ain’t Heinz, it ain’t Tarchup.

Chris Powell